Jessica Lange is an American actress who has been active in the film industry since the late 1970s.
She has won numerous awards, including two Academy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and five Golden Globe Awards, among others. Here is a brief introduction to some of her best movies.
Best Jessica Lange Movies
Overall, Jessica Lange’s career is filled with memorable performances in a variety of genres, from dramas to comedies to thrillers. She is a versatile actress who has won the admiration of audiences and critics alike.
1. All That Jazz (1979)
“All That Jazz” is a 1979 musical drama film directed by Bob Fosse and starring Roy Scheider, Jessica Lange, and Leland Palmer.
The film is loosely based on Fosse’s own experiences as a Broadway director and choreographer and tells the story of a successful but exhausted showbiz director named Joe Gideon (Scheider).
As Gideon struggles to balance his demanding work schedule, his failing health, and his complicated personal life, he becomes increasingly obsessed with his latest production, a musical about his own life.
The film uses surreal imagery, fantasy sequences, and musical numbers to explore Gideon’s creative process, his relationships with the women in his life, and his fear of death.
“All That Jazz” was a critical and commercial success, winning four Academy Awards and earning widespread praise for its innovative style and Scheider’s powerful performance.
The film has since become a cult classic and is considered one of the greatest musical films of all time, known for its dark humor, provocative themes, and dazzling choreography.
2. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
“The Postman Always Rings Twice” is a 1981 film noir directed by Bob Rafelson and starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. Here are a few details about the movie:
Plot: The movie follows the story of a drifter named Frank Chambers (Jack Nicholson) who stops at a roadside diner and falls in love with the owner’s wife, Cora Papadakis (Jessica Lange).
The two of them begin a passionate affair, which leads to a plot to murder Cora’s husband and collect the insurance money. However, their plan goes awry, and they find themselves trapped in a web of lies and betrayal.
Cast: “The Postman Always Rings Twice” features two of Hollywood’s most talented actors in Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.
Both actors give powerful performances, with Nicholson bringing his trademark intensity to the role of Frank and Lange portraying Cora’s desperation and vulnerability with great skill. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, making their illicit affair all the more believable.
Reception: The film received mixed reviews upon its release but has since gained a reputation as a classic film noir. Critics have praised the film’s atmospheric cinematography, tense pacing, and strong performances from its lead actors.
The movie’s sexual content and graphic violence were controversial at the time of its release but have since become hallmarks of the film noir genre.
Overall, “The Postman Always Rings Twice” is a gripping and intense thriller that showcases the talents of two great actors. Its exploration of themes such as desire, greed, and betrayal make it a film that is still relevant and enjoyable to watch today.
3. Tootsie (1982)
“Tootsie” is a 1982 American comedy-drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, and Teri Garr.
The film tells the story of Michael Dorsey (Hoffman), a talented but difficult-to-work-with actor who decides to dress up as a woman in order to land a role on a popular soap opera.
As his alter-ego, “Dorothy Michaels,” Michael becomes a sensation on the show and quickly finds himself navigating the complex world of soap operas, all while trying to keep his true identity a secret.
Along the way, he develops feelings for his co-star, Julie (Lange), who believes he is a woman.
The film was praised for its clever screenplay, strong performances, and nuanced exploration of gender roles and relationships.
It was a critical and commercial success, earning ten Academy Award nominations and winning Best Supporting Actress for Lange and Best Adapted Screenplay for Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal, and Don McGuire.
“Tootsie” remains a beloved classic of the comedy-drama genre, and a testament to the enduring appeal of stories about self-discovery, acceptance, and the power of love.
4. Frances (1982)
“Frances” is a 1982 biographical drama film directed by Graeme Clifford and starring Jessica Lange in the title role.
The film tells the story of Frances Farmer, a talented actress from Seattle who was institutionalized and subjected to electroshock therapy after a series of personal and professional setbacks in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s.
Lange delivers a powerful and convincing performance as Farmer, capturing her rebellious spirit, her fierce independence, and her struggles with mental illness and the constraints of the Hollywood system.
The film depicts Farmer’s journey from a young and ambitious actress to a troubled and misunderstood figure, who eventually finds some measure of peace and redemption through her love for the arts and her family.
“Frances” received critical acclaim upon its release, with many praising Lange’s performance and the film’s honest and uncompromising portrayal of mental illness and the pressures of fame.
It is a moving and thought-provoking film that explores complex themes of identity, creativity, and the human spirit, and is a must-watch for fans of Jessica Lange and biographical dramas.
5. Country (1984)
“Country” is a 1984 drama film directed by Richard Pearce and starring Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, and Wilford Brimley.
The film tells the story of a struggling farm family in Iowa who are faced with the challenges of economic hardship and the threat of losing their farm due to foreclosure.
Jessica Lange delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as the wife and mother of the family, who takes on a leadership role in the fight to save their farm.
Sam Shepard delivers a subtle and understated performance as her husband, who is conflicted about how to respond to the crisis.
The film is a powerful exploration of family, community, and the struggles of rural life, and it presents a stark and honest portrayal of the challenges facing farmers in America during the 1980s.
“Country” is a compelling and emotionally resonant film that tackles important social and economic issues, and it offers a thoughtful and compassionate perspective on the lives of rural Americans.
It is a must-see for anyone interested in the struggles of rural communities, the challenges of economic hardship, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
6. Far North (1988)
Far North is a 1988 drama film directed by Sam Shepard and starring Jessica Lange, Charles Durning, and Tess Harper.
The film tells the story of two sisters, played by Lange and Harper, who live in a remote part of Alaska and struggle to survive in the harsh and unforgiving environment.
Lange’s character, Kate, is a fiercely independent woman who lives a solitary life with her young daughter.
When her younger sister, Rita (Harper), comes to visit, the two women must confront their past and their complicated relationship, which has been strained by years of distance and resentment.
As the sisters try to reconcile and rebuild their bond, they must also contend with the challenges of living in such a remote and inhospitable place, including the constant threat of danger from the elements and from wild animals.
Far North was praised for its stunning visuals and its poignant and emotional portrayal of the complex relationship between two sisters. The film also received acclaim for its nuanced and authentic depiction of life in rural Alaska, and for its strong performances from its lead actors.
While Far North did not receive a wide theatrical release, it has since become a cult classic and is considered a hidden gem of 1980s cinema. The film is a powerful exploration of family, survival, and the enduring bonds that can connect us across great distances and difficult circumstances.
7. Music Box (1989)
“Music Box” is a 1989 legal drama film directed by Costa-Gavras and starring Jessica Lange. The film tells the story of a Hungarian immigrant named Mike Laszlo who is accused of being a war criminal and is brought to trial in the United States.
Lange plays the role of Ann Talbot, the defense attorney who must navigate the complex legal and emotional terrain of the case.
Here are three reasons to watch “Music Box”:
Compelling story: “Music Box” is based on a real-life case of a Hungarian man accused of being a Nazi war criminal. The film explores themes of guilt, responsibility, and justice, and is a thought-provoking exploration of the dark history of the Holocaust.
Strong performances: Jessica Lange delivers a powerful performance as Ann Talbot, the determined defense attorney who must unravel the truth behind her father’s past. The supporting cast, which includes Armin Mueller-Stahl as Mike Laszlo, also delivers strong performances.
Thought-provoking themes: “Music Box” raises important questions about the nature of justice and responsibility, and asks whether individuals can be held accountable for the actions of their country or their community.
The film also explores the impact of trauma and memory on individuals and families, and the difficulties of reconciling with the past.
8. Cape Fear (1991)
“Cape Fear” is a 1991 psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange. It is a remake of the 1962 film of the same name, directed by J. Lee Thompson.
The film follows the story of Sam Bowden (Nolte), a successful lawyer who is stalked and terrorized by Max Cady (De Niro), a violent criminal whom Bowden helped to convict years earlier.
As Cady begins to target Bowden’s family, including his wife Leigh (Lange) and teenage daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis), Bowden realizes that he must confront his own past mistakes and find a way to stop Cady before it’s too late.
“Cape Fear” was a critical and commercial success, earning two Academy Award nominations and widespread praise for its intense performances, gripping plot, and Scorsese’s masterful direction.
De Niro’s portrayal of Cady, in particular, is considered one of his most iconic and terrifying roles. The film has since become a classic of the thriller genre and remains a popular favorite among fans of suspenseful cinema.
9. Night and the City (1992)
“Night and the City” from 1992. The most well-known movie with this title was released in 1950 and directed by Jules Dassin.
It is a film noir classic that tells the story of a hustler named Harry Fabian (played by Richard Widmark) who dreams of becoming a big-time wrestling promoter in London. Here are a few details about the 1950 version of “Night and the City”:
Plot: The movie follows the story of Harry Fabian, a small-time hustler who dreams of making it big in the wrestling world. He makes a deal with a corrupt wrestling promoter named Kristo (Herbert Lom) to put on a big wrestling match, but things quickly spiral out of control.
Harry finds himself on the run from gangsters and struggling to keep his dream alive.
Cast: The film features a talented cast, with Richard Widmark delivering a memorable performance as the ambitious but ultimately doomed Harry Fabian.
Herbert Lom is also excellent as the menacing Kristo, while Googie Withers gives a strong performance as Harry’s long-suffering girlfriend.
Reception: “Night and the City” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it is now regarded as one of the greatest film noirs ever made.
Critics have praised the movie’s gritty atmosphere, tense pacing, and outstanding performances. The film’s themes of greed, ambition, and betrayal have also made it a favorite among fans of the film noir genre.
Overall, “Night and the City” is a gripping and memorable film that showcases the best of the film noir genre. Its exploration of the dark side of human nature and the corrupt world of professional wrestling make it a must-watch for fans of classic cinema.
10. Losing Isaiah (1993)
“Losing Isaiah” is a 1993 American drama film directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal and starring Jessica Lange, Halle Berry, and David Strathairn.
The film tells the story of a young African-American boy named Isaiah, who is born addicted to crack cocaine and is subsequently adopted by a white family.
When Isaiah’s biological mother, Khaila Richards (Berry), gets clean and tries to reclaim her son, a custody battle ensues.
As Khaila fights to regain custody, the white adoptive mother, Margaret Lewin (Lange), struggles to hold onto the child she has raised as her own.
The film was praised for its honest and nuanced portrayal of the complexities of adoption, race, and motherhood. It was also notable for featuring two strong female leads, Lange and Berry, in emotionally charged roles.
While the film received mixed reviews from critics, it was a modest box office success and has remained a thought-provoking exploration of some of the most difficult issues in American society.
Overall, “Losing Isaiah” is a powerful and moving drama that raises important questions about family, identity, and the bond between mothers and their children.
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11. Rob Roy (1995)
“Rob Roy” is a 1995 historical drama film directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring Liam Neeson in the title role. The film is loosely based on the life of Robert Roy MacGregor, a Scottish clan leader and folk hero who lived in the 18th century.
The film tells the story of Rob Roy, who is caught up in a bitter feud between his clan and a local aristocrat, the Marquess of Montrose, over land and money.
Rob Roy is forced to go into hiding after being betrayed by his trusted friend, Archibald Cunningham, and sets out to clear his name and restore his honor.
Liam Neeson delivers a commanding and nuanced performance as Rob Roy, capturing the character’s charisma, courage, and sense of justice.
The film is visually stunning, with breathtaking landscapes and well-choreographed action sequences. It also features a talented supporting cast, including Jessica Lange, who plays Rob Roy’s wife Mary.
“Rob Roy” received critical acclaim for its performances, direction, and screenplay, which deftly blends action, drama, and romance. It is a must-watch for fans of historical dramas and those who enjoy epic tales of honor, loyalty, and justice.
12. A Thousand Acres (1997)
“A Thousand Acres” is a 1997 drama film directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, and Jason Robards.
The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Jane Smiley, which is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s play “King Lear”.
The film tells the story of a family of farmers in Iowa who are torn apart by greed, betrayal, and the legacy of the past. Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a powerful performance as the eldest daughter, who struggles to reconcile her loyalty to her family with her own desires and ambitions.
Jessica Lange is equally impressive as her sister, who harbors a dark secret and a burning resentment towards their father (played by Jason Robards).
The film is a powerful exploration of family dynamics, the legacy of abuse and trauma, and the ways in which people are shaped by their environment and their relationships.
It offers a poignant and thought-provoking commentary on the struggles of rural America, the complexities of family relationships, and the search for identity and meaning in a world that can be cruel and unforgiving.
“A Thousand Acres” is a must-see for anyone interested in powerful dramas that explore complex human relationships and the struggles of rural communities.
It is a poignant and emotionally resonant film that offers a fresh and insightful perspective on the themes and motifs of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”.
13. Hush (1998)
Hush is a 1998 psychological thriller directed by Jonathan Darby and starring Jessica Lange, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Johnathon Schaech.
The film centers around a young married couple, Jackson (Schaech) and Helen (Paltrow), who move into a luxurious home in the countryside to start their new life together.
However, their idyllic existence is soon disrupted by the arrival of Jackson’s overbearing mother, Martha (Lange), who disapproves of Helen and becomes increasingly controlling and manipulative.
As tensions rise and secrets are revealed, Helen begins to suspect that Martha may be hiding a dark and dangerous past.
Hush was praised for its intense and suspenseful storytelling, as well as for the strong performances of its lead actors, particularly Lange, who was noted for her chilling portrayal of the overbearing and sinister Martha.
While Hush received mixed reviews from critics, it remains a popular and memorable entry in the psychological thriller genre. The film’s exploration of family dysfunction and manipulation, as well as its themes of trust and deception, continue to resonate with audiences today.
14. Titus (1999)
“Titus” is a 1999 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play “Titus Andronicus,” directed by Julie Taymor. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, and Alan Cumming, among others, and is known for its striking visuals and bold interpretation of the source material.
Here are three reasons to watch “Titus”:
Bold visuals: Julie Taymor is known for her visually stunning productions, and “Titus” is no exception. The film features striking and surreal imagery that brings Shakespeare’s violent and gruesome tale to life in a way that is both disturbing and beautiful.
Powerful performances: The cast of “Titus” delivers strong and memorable performances, with Anthony Hopkins in the title role and Jessica Lange as the vengeful Tamora.
The film also features a memorable supporting performance from Alan Cumming as the scheming and sinister Saturninus.
Complex themes: “Titus Andronicus” is one of Shakespeare’s most violent and disturbing plays, and the film adaptation explores themes of revenge, power, and justice in a way that is both thought-provoking and unsettling.
The film raises important questions about the nature of violence and the lengths to which individuals will go to achieve their goals.
15. Masked and Anonymous (2003)
“Masked and Anonymous” is a 2003 drama film directed by Larry Charles and starring Bob Dylan, who also co-wrote the screenplay under the pseudonym “Sergei Petrov”.
The film takes place in a dystopian future where a dictator rules over a nameless country in chaos.
Centers around a benefit concert organized by a mysterious promoter named Uncle Sweetheart (John Goodman) featuring various musical acts, including Jack Fate (Dylan), a former folk singer who is released from prison to perform.
As the concert approaches, Jack navigates through the surreal and often dangerous world of the country’s political upheaval, encountering various characters played by a star-studded ensemble cast including Jeff Bridges, Penelope Cruz, and Jessica Lange.
Through his interactions with them, Jack begins to question his own role in society and the nature of freedom and revolution.
While “Masked and Anonymous” received mixed reviews upon its release and was a box office disappointment, it has gained a cult following among fans of Bob Dylan and experimental cinema.
The film is notable for its unique visual style, political themes, and unconventional narrative structure, as well as Dylan’s electrifying performances of classic songs such as “Cold Irons Bound” and “Dixie”.
16. Big Fish (2003)
“Big Fish” is a 2003 American fantasy drama directed by Tim Burton, based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Daniel Wallace. The movie stars Ewan McGregor as a young Edward Bloom, and Albert Finney as the older version of Bloom. Here are three reasons to watch “Big Fish”:
Creative storytelling: The movie weaves together a series of larger-than-life stories told by Bloom, and explores the power of storytelling and the way we remember our own lives.
The film’s fantastical elements and imaginative storytelling create a world that is both visually stunning and emotionally resonant.
Talented cast: The movie features a strong cast of talented actors, including Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, and Jessica Lange.
McGregor delivers a charismatic performance as the young Edward Bloom, while Finney brings depth and nuance to the older version of the character. Lange is also excellent as Bloom’s wife.
Themes of love and family: At its core, “Big Fish” is a moving exploration of the relationship between a father and son, and the power of love to overcome even the most difficult obstacles.
The movie touches on themes of family, sacrifice, and the importance of living a life that is full of passion and adventure.
Overall, “Big Fish” is a visually stunning and emotionally powerful film that is sure to captivate viewers with its imaginative storytelling, talented cast, and moving themes.
Whether you are a fan of Tim Burton’s unique style or simply appreciate a well-told story, this movie is definitely worth checking out.
17. Broken Flowers (2005)
“Broken Flowers” is a 2005 comedy-drama film directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Bill Murray, who plays a retired Don Juan named Don Johnston.
The film follows Don as he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover, informing him that he has a son who may be seeking him out.
With the encouragement of his neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), Don embarks on a journey to revisit his former lovers and uncover the identity of his son.
The film received critical acclaim for its understated humor, melancholic tone, and subtle performances.
Murray’s portrayal of the emotionally repressed Don earned him praise for his ability to convey a range of emotions with minimal dialogue.
The film was also notable for its unique visual style, which emphasized long takes and static shots to highlight the quiet moments in between conversations.
“Broken Flowers” was a box office success and won the Grand Prix at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. It has since become a cult favorite and is often cited as one of Jarmusch’s best films.
Overall, “Broken Flowers” is a thought-provoking exploration of love, regret, and the search for meaning in life.
18. The Gambler (2014)
“The Gambler” is a 2014 crime drama film directed by Rupert Wyatt and starring Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. The film is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name, which starred James Caan.
Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a college professor with a serious gambling addiction who gets in over his head with some dangerous loan sharks.
As Bennett spirals deeper into debt and desperation, he becomes increasingly reckless and takes ever more dangerous risks to try to dig himself out of the hole he’s in.
“The Gambler” is a gritty and intense film that explores the destructive nature of addiction and the lengths to which people will go to satisfy their cravings.
Wahlberg delivers a powerful performance as the troubled and self-destructive protagonist, and he’s supported by a strong cast that includes John Goodman, Brie Larson, and Michael K. Williams.
The film received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising its stylish direction and strong performances, while others criticized its convoluted plot and bleak tone.
However, it’s still worth watching for fans of crime dramas and intense character studies, particularly those who appreciate Wahlberg’s intense and brooding style of acting.
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3 Reasons To Watch Jessica Lange Movies
Powerful Acting: Jessica Lange is one of the most talented actresses of her generation, with a career spanning over four decades.
She is known for her ability to portray complex and layered characters with depth and nuance, bringing an authenticity and emotional intensity to every role she plays.
Diverse Roles: Lange has played a wide variety of roles throughout her career, from iconic characters like Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” to comedic roles in films like “Tootsie” and “Big Fish”.
She has also taken on challenging and controversial roles in films like “Frances” and “Titus”, showcasing her fearlessness and range as an actress.
Awards and Recognition: Lange’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and nominations throughout her career, including two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, and five Golden Globe Awards.
She is widely regarded as one of the most talented and accomplished actresses of her generation, with a legacy that continues to inspire and influence actors and filmmakers around the world.
Best Jessica Lange Movies – Wrap Up
Here are some of the best Jessica Lange movies of all time:
Blue Sky (1994)
Sweet Dreams (1985)
Music Box (1989)
Cape Fear (1991)
King Kong (1976)
Big Fish (2003)
Grey Gardens (2009)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1995)
Jessica Lange has been widely acclaimed for her range and versatility as an actress, earning numerous accolades throughout her career, including two Academy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and one Tony Award.
Her performances in these films and others have solidified her status as one of the greatest actresses of her generation.